Former President Barack Obama received criticism from Democrats this week for saying “Defund the Police” is a “snappy slogan.”
During an interview with Peter Hamby on an episode of Good Luck America that aired Wednesday, Obama said:
We take for granted if you want people to buy your sneakers that you’re gonna market it to your audience. If a musician drops a record, there’s gonna … try to reach a certain audiences speaking to folks where they are. It’s no different in terms of ideas. If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like “Defund the Police,” but you know you’ve lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually gonna get the changes that you want done.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) shot back on Twitter, writing, “We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand”:
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety. https://t.co/Vu6inw4ms7
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 2, 2020
Democrat congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, who will represent Missouri’s First Congressional District, echoed Omar’s comments.
“With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence,” she posted on Twitter:
With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.
It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police. https://t.co/Wsxp1Y1bBi
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) December 2, 2020
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) expressed her opinion. She wrote, “The thing that critics of activists don’t get is that they tried playing the ‘polite language’ policy game and all it did was make them easier to ignore”:
The thing that critics of activists don’t get is that they tried playing the “polite language” policy game and all it did was make them easier to ignore.
It wasn’t until they made folks uncomfortable that there was traction to do ANYTHING even if it wasn’t their full demands.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 2, 2020
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also weighed in:
The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific. Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists.
Whatever a grieving family says is their truth.
And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) December 2, 2020
Rosa Parks was vilified & attacked for her civil disobedience. She was targeted. It's hard seeing the same people who uplift her courage, attack the movement for Black lives that want us to prioritize health, funding of schools & ending poverty, rather than racist police systems.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 2, 2020
During his interview, Obama suggested telling people, “Let’s reform the police department so that everybody’s being treated fairly”:
“Suddenly, a whole bunch of folks who might not otherwise listen to you are listening to you. So the key is deciding do you actually want to get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?” Obama noted.
“And if you want to get something done in a democracy, in a country as big and diverse as ours, then you’ve gotta be able to meet people where they are and play a game of addition and not subtraction,” he concluded.